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J.J. Abrams ‘Would Love’ to Direct Original Films After ‘Double-Edged Sword’ of Franchises

Abrams says all he can think about with his franchise movies is "what things could have been and what we might have done."

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker"

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker”

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / © Lucasfilm / courtesy Everett Collection

J.J. Abrams has directed six feature films, but only one of them is an original property. That would be “Super 8,” Abrams’ 2011 coming-of-age monster movie that was released in between the filmmaker’s two “Star TreK’ directorial efforts. Abrams’ feature directorial filmography is rounded out by his movie debut “Mission: Impossible III” and two “Star Wars” movies, “The Force Awakens” and “The Rise of Skywalker.” With so much IP under his belt, Abrams recently told Collider that he is writing new original material, and is making it his goal to have his upcoming directorial projects not be based on pre-existing franchises.

“I know that Hollywood is a place where it used to be that people would be inspired by something that they would see or an old film or a show or something and think, ‘Oh, here’s my response to that. Here’s a version of that that,'” Abrams said. “It’s become a place where, more often than not, you see something and people get inspired by it and go, ‘Let’s redo that exact thing.’ I feel like, as someone who started writing in television and telling original stories on film and in TV, it is something that I really do miss. The few things that I’m working on now, as a writer, are original ideas. I just feel, as a director, I really would love to have my next projects be things that didn’t pre-exist me necessarily.”

Abrams hasn’t revealed any of the original writer/director projects he’s currently working on, but he’s fulling mining pre-existing IP as a producer and executive producer. News broke earlier this year Abrams is producing a new take on Superman for Warner Bros. written by Ta-Nehisi Coates, and he’s also producing a “Justice League Dark” adaptation for streamer HBO MAX. On the television side, Abrams’ next producing project is Apple TV+’s Stephen King adaptation “Lisey’s Story,” starring Julianne Moore and premiering June 4.

While Abrams received acclaim for rebooting the “Mission: Impossible,” “Star Trek,” and “Star Wars” franchises, his most recent IP movie, “The Rise of Skywalker,” received some of the “Star Wars” franchise’s worst reviews. The director told Collider that working on any “pre-existing franchise is definitely a double-edged sword.”

“While I’m incredibly grateful and proud to have been involved in the projects, of course, all I see is what things could have been and what we might have done,” Abrams said about his franchise work. “The importance of it is not lost on me, as temporary custodians of any ideas, whether they pre-exist us or not, which is to say I think that even with an original idea, somehow I still don’t quite understand where that creative impulse comes from and how the experience of writing something really is yours. I feel like we’re all just channeling something that we’re trying to serve, as opposed to something that we are doing and that is our work.”

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